Up-and-coming experimental rock group Black Country, New Road shared a new cover of MGMT’s pop hit “Time to Pretend.” The young London artists just put out their six-song debut record For the First Time via Ninja Tune on February 5.
“Time to Pretend” starts out slowly and builds throughout, as has become a pattern for Black Country, New Road songs. Frontman Isaac Wood begins alone on guitar and sings with his shaky vocal style. By the end he’s straining his vocal cords to belt out “We’re fated to pretend.” Violinist Georgia Ellery and saxophonist Lewis Evans play the original’s synth hook and solo a bit during the outro. Guitarist Luke Mark, drummer Charlie Wayne, bassist Tyler Hyde and pianist May Kershaw all add to the song with a coordinated cacophony of their own under the other musicians.
It’s a very different interpretation of MGMT’s 2008 recording, which was more accessible with its synth hook, cleaner vocal melodies, simple drums and upbeat energy. Still, MGMT’s version was a rather maximalist pop song in its own right, with synth strings and plenty of emphasis on its build-up and climax.
Black Country, New Road recorded the cover live in a studio and captured it on video. It’s a large enough space for all seven members to socially distance themselves from each other while all fitting in the same room except for the drummer, who’s separated by a pane of glass. Besides Evans and Wood, they’re all wearing masks as well, and Wood wouldn’t have been able to show off his new mustache had he been wearing one.
It’s almost been a year since MGMT released their last single, “As You Move Through the World.” It’s a downtempo ambient track with a swirling psychedelic atmosphere and blurry vocals. Their last album Little Dark Age came out 10 years after the release of “Time to Pretend.”